After the ban of price parity clauses in Belgium last Friday, the Swedish Patent and Market Court issued its judgement forbidding Booking.com to impose parity clauses in its contracts with hotels from 20 October 2018 onwards.
Such clauses must not be imposed in any form and under any conditions on hoteliers, also ranking algorithms must not take into account refusal of hoteliers who are denying such clauses. Incentives by Booking.com e.g. in the form of lower commissions to apply such clauses is forbidden as well. Sweden is already the 6th country in the EU where parity clauses of at least of the European market leader Booking.com are banned.
Parity clauses applied by online booking platforms forbid businesses to offer better conditions on their own websites than provided to the online intermediary. As 2 online booking platforms dominate over 82% of the increasing online intermediated hotel booking market in Europe, the current Swedish court decision partly releases platforms’ pressure from the market, allowing for fairer competition to the benefit of consumers’ and all businesses.
“The uncompetitive nature of parity clauses is more and more recognised by antitrust authorities, courts and policy makers all across Europe. The control over the own product and the conditions must remain with the businesses” said Markus Luthe, Chair of HOTREC’s Distribution Task Force.
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